PARIS – The French conservative party The Republicans elected this Saturday, 4, in primaries, Valerie Pécresse as a candidate to face the president Emmanuel Macron in the elections next year. will be the first woman of the legend to dispute the position. For the party, the candidate – a representative of the social-liberal wing – may have greater influence in the campaign, although with little chance of reaching the second round.
Head of the Île-de-France region, where Paris is located, Pécresse describes himself as “one-third Thatcher (Margaret), two-thirds Merkel (Angela)”. Opinion polls show the 54-year-old candidate with around 11% of voting intentions for the April elections.
With 61 percent of the vote in the party’s second-round election, she defeated the most radical wing candidate, Eric Ciotti, in a dispute considered a test of whether the party would remain anchored in its center-right tradition or turn more to on the right.
“For the first time in its history, the party of Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy will have a candidate for the presidential election. Pécresse said at party headquarters after the results were announced. “Let’s restore France’s pride and protect the French.”
Pécresse could potentially attract center-right voters on whom Macron relies heavily, but he will have to seek the support of more conservative voters also courted by right-wing candidates.
The extreme right-wing journalist’s unexpected candidacy Eric Zemmour dashed expectations that the presidential election would be a repeat of the 2017 duel between Macron and Marine Le Pen, from the National Regroupment, from the extreme right.
Though more moderate than Ciotti, Pécresse and his opponents in the primaries have moved even further to the right on issues such as immigration and law and order. She campaigned on a pledge to halve the number of residence permits for migrants from outside the country. European Union, toughen court sentences in difficult neighborhoods where the police are under pressure and ban women who accompany their children on school trips from wearing a Muslim scarf.
“I feel the anger of people who feel powerless in the face of violence and the rise of Islamic separatism, who feel that their values and lifestyle are threatened by uncontrolled immigration,” she said.
Former budget minister and former government spokeswoman Sarkozy will struggle to differentiate herself from Macron’s pro-business, low-tax policy stance on the economic front.
She said she would end the 35-hour workweek, raise the retirement age to 65, cut 200,000 public sector jobs and build more nuclear reactors.
Although the center-right has ruled France for much of its postwar history, it has struggled in recent years, losing voters to Macron, who occupied key strongholds in its territory, and to the far right.
Opinion polls so far consistently indicate that Macron, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy, will win a second term. France has never had a female president.
About five months before the presidential election, France has a busy weekend in politics. In addition to choosing the conservative candidate, Zemmour, the most extreme of the candidates, brings his supporters together for the first time tomorrow at an event in which around 19,000 people are expected to attend.
After months of speculation about a candidacy and criticized by its opponents, Zemmour confirmed on Tuesday that he will contest the elections. For now, he will mainly face Pécresse and Le Pen, both worried about the leaking of votes for him.
On the left he faces Jean-Luc Mélenchon, which called a demonstration in Paris on the same day, and Yannick Jadot, leader of environmentalists. Although he has not confirmed his candidacy, Macron’s voter tone is increasingly present in his interventions.
But Zemmour is being the real headache for everyone in this pre-campaign. His voice rises and his identity and anti-immigration rant have been in media coverage for months. If in September polls gave barely 5% of the estimated votes, since November, with between 19% and 20%, his name enters the list for the second round of elections./Reuters, AFP and EFE